Social Question

YoKoolAid's avatar

"Women and children first" - What's the cut off?

Asked by YoKoolAid (2424points) January 17th, 2012

What’s the cut off age? And what if a young child only has one parent and it’s a male, does that make an exception?

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27 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I’m a middle ager now, so, I’ll step aside for younger men, women and offspring. But not grumpy old men.

Grumpy old men should be the last in the lifeboats. lol

Coloma's avatar

Yes, if only one parent they should always be kept with the children regardless of age and gender.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t see using age as a deciding factor.

Yes, if there is only a male parent, that person should go with the child.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Just thinking about the Titanic, for instance, I think it would traditionally be about 12 years old. Girls are going to get in the lifeboat at any age, but I don’t think a pre-adolescent boy would be considered a child back then. Lots of 13 and 14 year olds were working jobs already. Nowadays, if it was up to me, I would make the cutoff at age 16.

rebbel's avatar

According to some passengers on the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that capsized a few days ago, that rule doesn’t apply anymore.
It was every man and woman for himself when they were heading for the life boats.
Very depressing fact.

Zaku's avatar

It might matter whether or not the mom were around to express (or just exude) her opinion about who was a child…

JLeslie's avatar

Depends. Part of the reason women and children are first, is because they are considered weaker, needing help by the men to get to a safe place, while the men can in the end help save themselves better than the weaker sex, or dependent children. Also, women are needed to continue the species, and same for children. But, when many many people are going to be able to be saved, I think it becomes more of an every man for himself situation, especially among adults. Young children would likely be protected by their own parents, and some other adults might make an effort to protect and save young children who did not have a parent nearby.

I heard on the recent ship that tipped over a woman handed her baby to a woman who was in a safer place, asking she keep the baby safe. The woman did hold the baby for a while, but then became afraid she would drop the baby and handed it back. Last time I saw her on TV she was asking to know if the baby and parents survived. But that was a baby’s own mother handing over her baby to save its life, asking for help.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@rebbel Yeah, and the captain was the first one off! What a coward. Also, when my daughter was working on the Disney Cruise as an actress, and another ship in distress had to move their passengers onto her ship, it was the entertainment employees that handled the emergency.

So, if you are ever on a doomed cruise ship, stick close to Snow White and Goofy!

Blackberry's avatar

I would probably follow the system anyway, but I don’t really agree with in theory. I only see it is a solidified social system that assumes men are tools who are worthless unless they’re providing or contributing something, and that women are just as worthless and helpless without men.

It’s stupid and I don’t like how we place value on human lives due to their age or gender.

Where do transgender or super effiminate men fit in? Or was this system best when we assumed those people didn’t exist and all men were bread winners and women were pretty quaint housewives.

No one is inherently wrong or a douchebag for trying to save themselves, because this essentially says it’s ok for women to do this but not for men.

JLeslie's avatar

On the titanic I think the wealthy went into lifeboats first, and left the poor down in the lower levels. Lifeboats were launched not full, and then towards the end as the final boats were filling up, there was probably more of a decision for women to be saved before men, not sure. I would not want my husband to save me before himself, I can’t imagine it.

wundayatta's avatar

I think we want the people who have the most difficulty handling the evacuation process to get off the boat first. We need competent people left on board as long as possible. If we leave the women and children behind, then they won’t be able to handle the equipment that lets the boats down into the water.

Take care of others first. Of course, to do that, the others must allow themselves to be taken care of first.

It’s interesting that we need laws that require the captain and crew to stay on board until all the others are off. That suggests their hearts aren’t really in it. The captain stands to spend a decade or more in jail for abandoning his ship too soon. I guess he thinks he made the right decision since at least 11 others are already known dead. Better alive in jail than dead with honor?

jca's avatar

Children should not be separated from their mothers, no matter what we think of the rule. If the child is on board with a father only, father should get to stay with the child. Presumably, other parents are tending to their own children, so there should not be a child sent forth without a parent to take care of him/her.

I’m sure the “women before men” thing came about during the days of chivalry. Although there are plenty of strong women and weak men, face it, statistically, women are usually not as strong as men (which is why fire departments lower their standards as far as the loads required to be carried down ladders as requirement to pass employment tests). I myself am a pretty strong woman, but most adolescent boys could probably beat me in an arm wrestling contest!

Coloma's avatar

Well…bottom line, nothing like some sort of insane life or death crisis to really see the true colors of others. That captain might have been better off dead than forever branded as a coward.
I certainly understand his fear, of course, however, in terms of professionalism, what a wuss.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Blackberry Your response raises all kinds of other questions. Such as, where would I fit in, a widow who has raised her children, and therefore outlived my usefulness. (I don’t think so, but I can see how society would rate me on the scale of “worth saving.”)

If push came to shove, I think it would be every man for himself – only the strong survive. I wouldn’t kill a child to take his place in the lifeboat, but I would be grabbing deck chairs and making myself a raft.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I think if there is only going to be a small percentage of people to survive you would not be first on the list to be saved. But, if there was a case where all should be able to survive if emergency prodcedures are followed correcly, then you would be one of the first brought to safety. That’s why I say it depends in my first answer. You might even offer your life if young mothers and children were present and only a few would survive, especially if they were your own family members. Problem is in a panic situation not everyone is thinking all these things through. I think that is part of the reason for protocols, os hopefully people automatically do what has been drilled into them regarding aining and etiquette, so in a time of panic people are on autopilot.

Coloma's avatar


I’ll help you with the raft, or, we can just hold hands and jump to our watery graves. lol

Mariah's avatar

If we stand around asking everyone their age with supporting identification, we’re all gonna drown.

Coloma's avatar

@Mariah Right, and what about all the cosmetically enhanced passengers that only LOOK younger but are really relics beneath the botox? lolol

jca's avatar

Didn’t they say on the Titanic the Astor guy dressed up like a woman to get on one of the first life boats?

JLeslie's avatar

@jca According to this, he died. But, I am still googling and reading about the titanic now, curious to how it really all went down. No pun intended.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Coloma Heck, yeah! The Costa Concordia was so close to the shore that we could have made it without the raft.

@ica Not Mr. Astor! He put on his tux and watched the ship go down as he sipped brandy. You might be thinking of Ismay.

JLeslie's avatar

Very complete stats here about the Titanic. It seems women and children definitely were first off the boat, more than social class.

filmfann's avatar

The 100 year anniversary of Titanic is in April. I think the rememberence has started a bit early.

Soupy's avatar

Women and children first is rubbish. If you’re decent, you’ll let those less able than yourself get onto a lifeboat first. This might include kids, elderly people, or people with a bum leg. However, no one is a bad person for trying to save their own life. Why are women and children who get into a lifeboat first fine, while a man who jumps straight into a lifeboat is somehow a cad for not letting others on before him?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It’s not about age with children, it’s about ableness and of comprehension of goings on around them. In this day and age, it should be the less able, less independent first and then everyone else.

From what I’ve read of the Italian cruise ship, elderly people were left behind to fend for themselves and a teenager was more brave and helpful than many people around, helping 16 people to safety.

jca's avatar

Anybody decent would let a woman with a child or a man with a child go first.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have never felt that the life of anyone else is more important than mine, regardless of age or gender. That is agism and sexism accepted by society but not by me.

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